We'll be updating this page with relevant information as it comes in. 


From the County of Santa Cruz: 

EVACUEE FREE HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS

Free hotel accommodations may be available to residents evacuated from Lightning Complex Fire evacuation areas. The Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is working in coordination with the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department to secure hotel access as part of a state-wide response for community members impacted by fires.

The free hotel assistance program, a part of the federal disaster relief assistance, is available to those displaced by wildfire. Anyone in Santa Cruz County who has been evacuated from their home through official evacuation notice is eligible for free hotel program assistance, and proof of residency will be required. Hotels may allow pets but please verify prior to arrival. Transportation and food may be provided for those that qualify.

Participating hotels are located throughout the greater Bay Area. To apply for the program, displaced evacuees may go to an official County shelter site and request a program application form. Volunteer Emergency Services Team members will accept completed application forms in person.

For a list of current county shelter sites and locations to obtain an application, please visit http://www.santacruzcounty.us/FireResources.aspx. Evacuees are eligible whether or not they are staying in an official shelter.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is offering disaster assistance to California wildfire victims. The assistance is meant to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts for wildfires included in the State’s emergency declaration.


Greetings from the Dominican Hospital Foundation Team –

Our hearts are full, and our prayers are many for all those impacted by the recent fires in our communities, and with deep gratitude for the determination, strength and skill of the first responders who are dealing with this catastrophe for hours upon hours, day after day.

For those seeking the latest, most up-to-date information on the fire fight itself, this morning’s online daily press briefing jointly conducted by the agencies responding to the CZU Lightning Complex Fire is well worth your time and laden with some good news and cautious optimism click here to view. In fact, as I write this email, the sky outside my office is cloudless and blue. But, the battle is from over: the fire is still burning, and the total damage is still to be assessed (and sure to be devastating to many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers).

Our own Dominican Hospital staff has not been spared. Many have been evacuated, along with their families, and have been scrambling for temporary shelter, and experiencing the stress that goes with that difficult and tenuous situation. In many cases, once their family’s immediate safety has been ensured, these folks have returned to work virtually and side-by-side with the hundreds and hundreds of dedicated staff present 24-7-365 to guarantee that Dominican Hospital is ready for any member of the community that needs us. As can be imagined, our Emergency Department has been busy, as has been the entire hospital; still, the hospital, as always, is ready for you and your loved ones.

As witnessed throughout the ongoing, continuing COVID-19 pandemic, we are blessed to have the steady, compassionate and uplifting leadership of Nanette Mickiewicz, MD, President/CEO at the helm of the hospital, along with an outstanding and resilient management team. This group inspires confidence that we can get through ANYTHING, and that safety and good care are never compromised despite the hardship caused by plague or pestilence.

While our primary purpose here is to connect and inform, we have received inquiries as to how friends might be able to help our community and hospital staff in need. To that end, monetary contributions can be made to our Frontline Spirit fund and/or Emergency Equipment & Preparedness fund online at https://www.supportdominican.org/donate or to our attention at Dominican Hospital Foundation, 1555 Soquel Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95065. For other ways that you may help, please give us a call at (831)462-7712.

Should you or someone you care about need some special assistance due to these fires, please call us and we will try our level best to assist, or connect them with the appropriate agency or non-profit organization best suited to help.

In closing, I want to share a very meaningful reflection for these challenging times that our Vice President of Mission Integration, Sister Rita Eileen Dean, OP shared just yesterday with us all:

“God of Creation, we live in a world where both beauty and danger surround us. Receive our prayer for those affected by, and living in fear of, the wildfires across our homes. For all our neighbors who cannot find adequate food, safety, or shelter. For all who have lost their homes, and workplace. For all your glorious natural Creation that has been destroyed and is in harms’ way. We pray and ask that you help heal the pain of all those affected. Strengthen with your presence for all who are numb with fear and distress. For those on the front lines, give them strength and endurance. These things we ask in your name. Amen.”

With my deepest gratitude, 

Drew A. Gagner, MBA 

Vice President & Chief Philanthropy Officer, Dominican Hospital Foundation


AIR QUALITY EVENTS GUIDANCE County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY: The recent unprecedented fires and dense smoke are the result of years of impacts brought on by climate change. The best public health strategy is to be aware that heavy smoke will be in our future and for people to prepare themselves, their home, their loved ones, and community for smoke events.

When heavy, dense smoke blankets the region, there is no one public health solution that can be widely applied.

PREPAREDNESS

• Stay informed by signing up for alerts from Cal Fire, your city or county, local air quality district, or local public health department.

• Weatherize homes and buildings in preparation for wildfires by replacing or refurbishing old leaky windows and doors; use caulking to seal the openings.

• Consider purchasing a non-ozone-producing air purifier (HEPA) to create a cleaner air room in your

home, or consider purchasing a MERV 13 or greater filter for your HVAC system to be used when experiencing a heavy smoke event.

• Consider upgrading to an HVAC system that allows for both heating and cooling. Be sure it includes a mechanism to switch to “recirculate” to prevent smoke from entering the space.

• Create a personal, family, or group emergency plan, gather emergency supplies, and be ready to evacuate.

INDIVIDUALS WITH HEALTH CONDITIONS

• Individuals with health conditions should talk to their physicians to develop a personal plan for dealing with smoke.

• Elderly persons, pregnant individuals, children, and individuals with cardiovascular disease or respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure.

• Those with heart or lung disease, older adults, pregnant individuals, and children should avoid pro-longed or heavy exertion, and should either reschedule outdoor activities or move them to another location. All individuals should avoid outdoor activity, including exercise, during air quality events.

• Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger wheezing in those who suffer from asthma, emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or other respiratory conditions.

• Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.

• Keep up to two weeks’ worth of extra medication on hand. Be ready with plans to treat asthma or diabetes when there is smoke.

• Individuals should contact their physician if they have cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms

believed to be caused by smoke. Concerned individuals should consult their physician for personalized

recommendations.

• Consider leaving the affected area if there is a prolonged heavy smoke event

DURING SMOKE EVENTS

• Shelter in place. Staying indoors with windows and doors closed, where air quality is better, is the best way to protect your health. During high heat and heavy smoke events, keep indoor air cool or visit an air-cooling center.

• Plan to go to a cleaner air location if you are unable to seal your home or if dense smoke occurs during hot weather events and you cannot stay in your home.

• If you are in an affected area and need to leave your home, ensure you practice physical distancing, cover your cough, wash your hands frequently, and always wear face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

• Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.

• Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing cough, a dry scratchy throat, runny nose, trouble breathing, and irritated sinuses. Stay hydrated by drinking water during heavy smoke events.

• Avoid adding additional air pollution by curtailing activities, such as wood burning, lawn mowing, leaf

blowing, driving, barbecuing, smoking, or other dust-producing activities. Avoid using hairspray and painting indoors. If possible, use the stove fan when cooking.

ABOUT MASKS

• COVID-19 is circulating in our community and the best way to protect yourself from the virus and poor air quality is to stay indoors. Face coverings should be worn if in proximity to others outside your house- hold, both indoor and outdoor.

• Bandanas, cloth masks, and typical surgical masks do nothing to protect against wildfire smoke particles, but are recommended community wide to protect each other from COVID-19.

• Taking a mask on and off can cause fine particulate matter and virus particles to build up in the mask, which the wearer will breathe when it is put back on the face.



IRS provides tax relief for victims of California wildfires; Oct. 15 deadline, other dates extended to Dec. 15

Victims of the California wildfires that began Aug. 14 now have until Dec. 15, 2020 to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.

The IRS is offering this relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as qualifying for individual assistance. Currently this includes Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties in California, but taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief. The current list of eligible localities is always available on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Aug. 14, 2020. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Dec. 15, 2020, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This means individuals who had a valid extension to file their 2019 return due to run out on Oct. 15, 2020, will now have until Dec. 15, 2020, to file. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2019 returns were due on July 15, 2020, those payments are not eligible for this relief.

The Dec. 15, 2020 deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments due on Sept. 15, 2020, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2020. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that had a valid extension due to run out on Nov. 15, 2020. Businesses with extensions also have the additional time including, among others, calendar-year corporations whose 2019 extensions run out on Oct. 15, 2020.     

In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due after Aug. 14 and before Aug. 31, will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Aug. 31, 2020.

The IRS disaster relief page has details on other returns, payments and tax-related actions qualifying for the additional time.

The IRS automatically provides filing and penalty relief to any taxpayer with an IRS address of record located in the disaster area. Therefore, taxpayers do not need to contact the agency to get this relief. However, if an affected taxpayer receives a late filing or late payment penalty notice from the IRS that has an original or extended filing, payment or deposit due date falling within the postponement period, the taxpayer should call the number on the notice to have the penalty abated.

In addition, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who lives outside the disaster area but whose records necessary to meet a deadline occurring during the postponement period are located in the affected area. Taxpayers qualifying for relief who live outside the disaster area need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. This also includes workers assisting the relief activities who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization.

Individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2020 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2019). Be sure to write the FEMA declaration number – 4558 − for California on any return claiming a loss. See Publication 547 for details.

The tax relief is part of a coordinated federal response to the damage caused by wildfires and is based on local damage assessments by FEMA. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

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